[image-5]Two Sides of the Law isn’t just a clever exhibit title — it’s a the literal description of two artists’ works. Jared Owens is a self-taught abstract conceptual artist who started creating art during his nearly two decade prison sentence for possession. His works will be presented alongside Phil Durst’s contemporary collages at Mitchell Hill Gallery next Fri. Dec. 1 from 5-8 p.m. And Durst’s side of the law? He’s a practicing civil rights lawyer based in Austin, Texas.

In an artist statement Owens says, “My art career started 10 years ago in federal prison. My first collectors were other prisoners who were interested in paintings of their family members. I tired of portraiture, feeling that this repetitive Sudoku-puzzle process would only add to the monotony that is prison life.” So, Owens started creating more abstract works — with the limited tools he was allowed in prison. He says he dreamed of using razors and palette knives to scrape paint. Now, as a citizen post-prison, Owens describes his work as “unleashed.”

Durst, a collagist, says he’s drawn to pattern and repetition. In an artist statement he says, “I like to work with materials that have also been cast-off or designed for other purposes. I enjoy working with paint chips, old books, candy boxes, and other packaging that all have such beauty even though they were never designed to last.”


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